If you’ve visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you know that water tumbles down rock faces and drops off the edges of cliffs in abundance. But don’t think the Smokies is the only place in Tennessee with amazing views of falling water. Here are four Tennessee State Parks — all in Middle Tennessee — that offer stunning vistas.
Fall Creek Falls State Park
Tennessee’s most visited state park, Fall Creek Falls is home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the eastern U.S. Fall Creek Falls drops 256 feet and is visible from an overlook near a convenient parking area. There’s also a half-mile trail that descends to the base of the falls. But that’s not the only rushing water to view at the park. Cane Creek Cascades gushes behind the Betty Dunn Nature Center.
The state park offers overnight options ranging from its new lodge to cabins and campsites. Because of its popularity, book early.
Cummins Falls State Park
If you’re wanting to take a summer dip in the swimming hole below a waterfall, make your way to Cummins Falls State Park. The 75-foot waterfall is Tennessee’s eighth largest in terms of water volume. The hike to the base of the falls is about a mile and requires an access permit. (You can purchase them online here.) The hike is rather strenuous, so you can also view Cummins Falls from an overlook platform about half a mile hike from the visitors center.
Though Cummins Falls does not offer overnight accommodations, Edgar Evins State Park is about a 35-minute drive and offers cabins and camping.
Burgess Falls State Park
Burgess Falls is actually a series of waterfalls on the Falling Water River. The largest is the strongest flowing falls in Tennessee and is 136 feet tall. Two trails lead to the falls overlook —one is paved and more accessible but does not offer views of the smaller waterfalls. Once at the overlook, it’s possible to hike to the top of the falls.
Burgess Falls does not have overnight accommodations, but Edgar Evins State Park and Rock Island State Park are both about 30 minutes away.
Rock Island State Park
It’s possible to explore multiple waterfalls and swimming holes at Rock Island State Park. Three miles of trails lead to the popular Twin Falls and Great Falls. Though swimming is not permitted at Twin Falls, you can take a dip at Great Falls. Of course, you can also admire both from the park overlooks.
Rock Island offers cabins and camping, but they fill up fast, so plan ahead.